Sprint joined AT&T and T-Mobile in using the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a podium from which to announce a new wireless plan. Sprint, in what at first might seem a typo, introduced the Sprint Framily Plan, a group plan that acknowledges that family is more than the people we're related to.
The Framily plan lets users include up to 10 "framily members" whether friends, roommates or grandparents, and knocks $5 off the bill for each additional member.
A new Framily Plan for a single line starts at $55 for 1GB of data a month plus unlimited talk and text. Get someone to join your plan, and each of you pays $50; add another person and everyone pays $45. Sprint will go as low as $25 a month for 1GB when there are between seven and 10 members on the plan.
Importantly, each person on the plan can be billed separately and each can customize his or her plan. Data can be boosted to 3GB a month for an additional $10 a month or upped to unlimited for an extra $20. (So, if there were four people on your plan, you could pay $40 a month for 1GB a month or $60 a month for unlimited data.)
Additionally, going the extra $20 for the unlimited route, subscribers can upgrade their phones each year.
Sprint offered up comparison information in a Jan. 7 statement. While a single subscriber in a seven-member Framily group pays $25 a month for 1GB, a single-line subscriber with 500MB on a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan would pay $50 a month; a single-line subscriber on an AT&T Mobile Share Value plan with 1GB would pay $70; and a single-line subscriber on a Verizon Wireless Share Everything plan with 1GB would pay $90 a month.
"Sprint continues to be a leader in offering customers choice, flexibility and value," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in a statement. "The Sprint Framily Plan makes Sprint the best choice for families and friends."
The plan is clever in that it lets Sprint pass off recruitment efforts to subscribers, and subscribers in group plans are far less likely to leave one carrier for another—particularly when leaving means an increased cost to your ... framily.
Subscribers can begin signing up for the plan Friday, Jan. 10.
T-Mobile vs. AT&T
T-Mobile will hold a press conference midday on Jan. 8, where it has promised to address another customer pain point and introduce the fourth phase of its "un-carrier" initiative.
"This one you aren't going to believe," T-Mobile wrote on its invitations.
It's expected that T-Mobile will announce an offer to waive early termination fees for AT&T customers who switch to T-Mobile. According to a Dec. 20 report from T-Mo News, T-Mobile plans to give switchers up to $350—depending on the phone they trade in—and focus on switching over whole families.
Seemingly buying into the rumors and working fast to deflate T-Mobile's sales, AT&T announced Jan. 3 that it's now offering up to $450 per line to T-Mobile customers who switch over.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere has taunted AT&T since launching its Un-carrier plan in early 2013. During a televised interview May 1, following the completion of T-Mobile's merger with MetroPCS, Legere brushed aside the suggestion that the nation's fourth-largest carrier was readying itself to take on the third-largest carrier, Sprint. "The more likely target for us is the one that we've got straight in our headlights, which is AT&T," said Legere.
On Jan. 1, Legere posted T-Mobile's supposed list of New Year's resolutions, which included, "Give AT&T a break ... or not."
Arguably, the best example yet of the degree to which Legere has forced AT&T to play defense came the second night of CES. Legere tried to attend an AT&T party where Macklemore was performing and found himself quickly escorted out by AT&T security. Twitter erupted, siding with Legere.
The life of the party at your party? That's a good thing, AT&T.